A Star is Born in Oakland

Jacoby Ford: Enhancing The Raiders Chances Of Winning The AFC West

Ford became just the second player in NFL history to have 140 receiving yards and 150 return yards in a single game

After a brutal first half, the Raiders trailed the Chiefs in their all-important divisional game, 10-0. Their defense had played pretty well, keeping them in the game up to this point, but the offense was nowhere to be found. They needed a spark.

And with the 2nd half kickoff, they got it. Let me introduce to you Jacoby Ford.

“2nd half underway. Jacoby Ford from the five.”

I’ll be quick. With Jacoby, you need to be quick.

“Finding room, and there he goes.”

The rookie from Clemson was a 4th round pick.

“Oh, the Raiders have started the 2nd half in high fashion. “

He caught 111 passes his last two seasons in college for just over 1,500 yards.

“94-yard return.”

But for the Raiders and Al Davis, his biggest stat was this: he ran a 4.28, 40 at the combine. Proof positive was on the return. That’s what world-class speed looks like. He broke through the seam at his own 40, and 60 yards later, or about 5.24 seconds to be exact, he was in the end zone.

Just like that, the first-half blues were gone in the blink of an eye. But unlike most Fords I’ve driven, this one didn’t break down after one good ride. It was just getting revved up.

After the Chiefs tacked on a field goal, Ford made his first catch of the day. A gain of 16 yards on what was the first of a 7-play, 74-yard drive that ended when Jason Campbell threw a 2-yard score to tackle eligible Kahlif Barnes. Instead of throwing to a Ford Pickup, Campbell threw to a Mack Truck for the Raiders’ first lead of the day, 14-13.

A Sebastian Janikowski field goal upped the lead to 17-13, thanks in part to a great catch by Ford on a 3rd and 8. Campbell scrambled out of the pocket and heaved it towards Jacoby, who put on the brakes, put it in reverse, and tumbled to the ground as he was catching the pigskin. The offense stalled and settled for the three and a four-point lead.

With momentum fully on their side, the Raiders were carjacked. Nick Miller muffed a punt, picked it up, and fumbled it away again. His knee appeared to be down, but the Raiders had no more instant replay challenges. Without a 2nd opinion, KC, who had done virtually nothing offensively in the 2nd half, took advantage when Matt Cassel hooked up with Dwayne Bowe from 20-yards away–and just like that, the Raiders were down 20-17 with 6:13 left in the 4th quarter.

On first down, Campbell found Ford again, this time for 12 yards and a first down. That was it. The next three plays resulted in a loss of 1-yard and a punt. The defense came through and forced a Chiefs punt as well, giving the Raiders one last opportunity, with 2:06 on the clock.
Without any time-outs, the Raiders needed to be either perfect or lucky. Both would be ideal. Cue up Jacoby.

After a 19-yard hookup to Ford was erased because of a holding penalty, Campbell looked to his little Hybrid Fusion on a 1st and 20 from their own 49. Instead he found Chiefs cornerback Brandon Flowers, but Ford somehow wrestled the ball from him, came down with it, and 29 yards later, the Raiders were in field-goal range, with 7 ticks left on the clock.

“Seabass” made the 41-yarder and the game went to OT. Chiefs went 3-and-out and the Raiders got the ball on their own 38. Ford got himself some high octane during the break, and Campbell put the pedal to the metal. Running like the Mustang he is, Ford outran the coverage and came down with the ball for a gain of 47 yards. Once the car got out of the garage, Ford was unstoppable; six receptions and 148 yards for the rookie, all after intermission.

An incredible football game, an outstanding NASCAR race, and a world-class track meet all rolled into one. 23-20 Raiders.

Who could ask for more?

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